Freelance Writer FAQ: Everything You Need to Know About Contributing to TravelAge West
Who are we? TravelAge West (TAW) is a travel trade publication serving an audience of modern, business-savvy travel advisors (formerly known as travel agents) who are always on the hunt for the latest travel trends, industry insights, destination news, practical selling tips and firsthand accounts of the latest travel products and experiences.
TAW powers a monthly print publication, www.TravelAgeWest.com, the Humans of Travel and Trade Secrets podcasts, the Western Agents' Votes of Excellence (WAVE) Awards and the award-winning Future Leaders in Travel Retreat. It is owned by Northstar Travel Group.
Who Is TravelAge West’s Audience?
Please note that TAW is a trade magazine, not a consumer magazine; therefore, our stories must both entertain our agent readers and provide them with practical business information. Our readers are interested in information that they can put to immediate use in their businesses, such as new tools and new products.
Also, our readers are already savvy regarding most destinations and are interested in how to help guide the vacation experience for their clients, not for themselves. (Take out the word “you” throughout a story and replace it with “the client” to get an idea of the difference.)
What Type of Story Is TravelAge West Looking For?
There are four kinds of ideal TAW stories: Career growth/professional development articles, travel trend articles, travel guides and firsthand reviews.
Read on to learn more about each story type.
Career Growth/Professional Development Articles
Many modern-day travel advisors are small-business owners who are always on the lookout for innovative ways to improve their businesses. Professional development articles offer practical advice or tools that these entrepreneurs can use to improve their career. This type of story answers: "What do travel advisors need to know now to do their job better?"
Examples of previously published professional development articles include:
Travel Advisors: How to Increase Your Value During a Busier-Than-Ever Summer Travel Season
6 Boundaries That Will Help Ease Travel Agent Burnout
5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Travel Business’ Sustainability and Social Impact
The COVID-19 Challenges Travel Advisors Are Still Facing
A Deeper Look at the Latest Travel Trends
Trend pieces often incorporate the use of data, surveys and travel industry interviews to take a closer look at an emerging trend in travel. These trends may relate to a small subset of the industry or the wider community at large, and/or may be correlated to a larger economic or geopolitical event.
Examples of previously published trend articles include:
Why Are So Many Flights Getting Canceled?
How Digital Nomads Are Changing the Travel Industry
Group Travel Is Slowly Making Its Comeback
Firsthand Reviews of Cruises, Hotels and Tours
Firsthand details are crucial to this type of article. Travel advisor readers should come away from the story having felt that they were traveling with the writer and armed with the information they need to help guide their clients on the same journey.
Use of first-person perspective is encouraged; however, writers should avoid giving a diary-like recounting of their trip. The focus should be the product — not the writer, and what makes the product new or newsworthy.
Examples of previously published destination guides include:
Cruise Review: Disney Wish
Cruise Review: Sailing Southeastern Alaska With UnCruise Adventures
Hotel Review: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
Hotel Review: Alila Napa Valley
City, Region or Neighborhood Guides
TAW aims to bring new destinations and new ideas to readers. Our stories should always be looking ahead to places, products and trends that are on the horizon, as well as finding unusual or off-the-beaten-path angles on well-touristed destinations and products.
Articles about destinations should focus on the best way a visitor can see and experience that place, either through a comprehensive travel guide, by focusing on what's new and noteworthy, or by viewing it through a certain lens (i.e. food, art, culture, history, etc.).
We cover cities and countries around the world, whether they are hidden gems, emerging locales or classic destinations. However, we have specific e-newsletters dedicated to Mexico, Hawaii, Europe and the Caribbean, and are always looking for coverage of these areas.
Examples of previously published destination guides include:
- 5 Innovative Berlin Restaurants for Foodies
- An Insider Travel Guide to Madeira Island, Portugal
- What's New in Bonaire
How Do I Submit a Pitch?
Queries should be detailed and emailed to Ken Shapiro, Vice President/Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org and Mindy Poder, Executive Editor, at email@example.com. Please send separate emails for each query, with subject lines that clearly state the story topic.
Due to the large number of queries that the magazine receives, a response might take some time. Once an editor accepts a story idea, the writer will receive instructions about what is expected of the final assignment.
We do not accept stories that have been published elsewhere. If we discover that large passages — or your entire story — have appeared in other outlets, we will not work with you again. If you are also a publicist, we will not accept a a story about one of your paid clients.
How Does TravelAge West Evaluate Pitches?
These are some of the factors that TAW editors use to evaluate pitches:
- Is the idea fresh and original? Does it convey a sense of exploration? Has TAW covered this recently in print or online?
- The news hook: Why do you want to write about this now? (Ex: Is this cruise ship new? Did this hotel just open or undergo a massive renovation?)
- What useful information will the travel advisor get out of this story? Does the piece provide the information needed to sell a destination or product? Does it contain practical tips that travel agents will be able to use in their businesses? Are we telling our readers something new or that they need to better understand? Note: We do not feature products or suppliers that do not work with travel agents.
- Does the story convey the experience of being in this destination? Does it have details and insights that can only be acquired from firsthand experience and that can’t be found in a guidebook or brochure?
- What type of client would be right for this destination or product? What else is offered at this destination? (For example: If it is famous for diving, is it also great for families?)
- Will it be possible to get high-resolution photography to accompany the story?
- Has the writer interviewed any agents or travel suppliers who can provide business insight? Are there quotes or research included in the story that help highlight the destination or product?
My Pitch Has Been Accepted. What Is TravelAge West’s Writing Style/Tone, and What Should I Keep in Mind While Writing?
At TAW, we put a premium on high-energy writing. Even though TAW is a trade magazine, we feel our stories should be as engaging as anything in a consumer magazine. Before beginning an assignment, we expect our writers to ask themselves: “What’s the best way to tell this story?”
All TAW stories, including first-person stories, should have a professional and journalistic tone (no experimental prose). Please carefully proofread, fact-check and edit your story before sending it in.
Research data and interviews are mandatory inclusions for cover stories and trend pieces. Quotes can also be included in narrative stories when applicable.
Stories must be accurate in fact and in inference, with all information presented in a fair manner. Personal observations may be included, but writers should be able to support any challenge to their comments. All information, including product names, personal names and titles, web addresses, fees and so on, must be fact-checked by the writer before submission. The writer will be responsible for the accuracy of all information provided to TAW.
Do You Have a Policy About Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
Our goal at TravelAge West is to provide a platform for and amplify a diverse number of voices within the travel industry, and we are asking our freelance writers to help us in this mission. Please make an effort to incorporate interviews with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) sources whenever possible.
If you are someone who regularly contributes to TravelAge West, please also avoid using the same sources (including travel advisors) for multiple stories.
How Do I Submit My Story?
We expect our writers to work with the assigning editor if necessary to enhance the visual presentation of the story. Writers should either have photos they can provide to TAW, or can obtain photos from a supplier.
Photos and other images should be submitted as high-resolution (300 dpi, 5x7 inches) digital photos (EPS or JPEG format). Articles should be submitted as a Word Doc.
Photos can be emailed directly to the assigning editor. Credit and caption information must be provided. Also, writers are responsible for obtaining all necessary permission for use of the materials.
How and When Will I Get Paid?
In most cases, TAW processes payment on publication. First-time writers must fill out and sign several documents. It is the writer’s responsibility to submit all forms promptly or risk delayed payments.
- Rate for a web story (500-800 words): $250
- Rate for a print cover story (1,200-1,600 words): $600
- Rate for a print story: Varies, depending on page length and space availability. Please confirm the rate with your assigning editor.
Writers should submit their own invoice upon completion of the work. The Northstar Accounts Payable Department estimates six weeks processing for a first check. Writers are asked to allow at least four weeks before asking editors about payments.
Thank you! We look forward to working with you.